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Böll EU Newsletter 2/2024

Dear Friends,

In fewer than 100 days, Europe’s citizens will go to the polls to elect their representatives to the European Parliament. The outgoing parliament faced historic challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to Russia’s war in Ukraine. It rose to the occasion, advancing key legislative proposals and promoting the European Green Deal as a flagship project.

This parliament was characterised by a strong, pro-European centre, but can this centre hold? Projections see anti-European populists from the radical right in third place. Their siren song can lead centrist parties to drift further rightward, with significant consequences. Already important initiatives and legislative proposals have either failed (see Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive) or been watered down (see rules on combating violence against women).

Against this background, it is clear that the ballots cast in June 2024 will have a significant impact on EU decision-making. As highlighted by the ECFR in its January 2024 forecast “A sharp right turn”, the makeup of the next European Parliament will affect European foreign policy and particularly the future of the European Green Deal.

But it will also influence institutional and national dynamics. A divided, weaker parliament will not be able to stand up to the European Commission and the EU Council. In 2019, the EP torpedoed the questionable European Commission candidates proposed by Hungary and Romania. An increase in radical-right populists within its ranks may prevent it from doing so again in future. It would also affect national debates and with it national elections, thereby putting rightward pressure on both the EU Commission and EU Council. Should Geert Wilders form a government in the Netherlands and the FPÖ return to power in Austria, the European Council would have more veto players on detrimental issues such as Ukraine. Viktor Orbán would not be isolated anymore (see our analysis on how Orbán’s EU Council Presidency might affect the EU).

The new parliament is likely to be a more divided house, defined by more fluid majorities. Such complexity could benefit from guardrails and orientation set by the pro-European parties for flagship areas, such as Ukraine and defence, Green Deal industrial competitiveness, and democratic resilience.

At the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union, we will be closely following the elections to the European Parliament with our elections dossier “The road to the 2024 European Parliament elections”, part of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung’s wider #WeNeedEU campaign. The dossier features interviews with key stakeholders, an interactive map, and expert recommendations for the next EU policy cycle from our partners. It will also feature events, including an online panel discussion on the reform and enlargement of the EU on 7 March. Further details can be found in the newsletter below.

Warm regards,

Roderick Kefferpütz
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union

New EP2024 elections web dossier!

Our new web dossier features interactive infographics to understand the EU elections process, insights from the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung's offices and partners on the 2024 European Parliament elections and the next EU legislative term. With about half of the world's population expected to go to the polls throughout 2024, we will also be looking at electoral processes in the USA, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Ukraine, United Kingdom and more!

"We all must fight for our democracy"

The Europe that will go to the polls in June 2024 is very different from that of 2019. Pandemic recovery, the climate and energy crisis, war in the continent, and the rise of the far right are all driving the narratives of the electoral campaign, but also mobilising progressive forces. Roderick Kefferpütz interviews MEP Terry Reintke, Co-President of the Greens/EFA Group and Spitzenkandidatin for the European Greens, on Green solutions for Europe in uncertain and volatile times.

Read more


Featured articles

3 Questions on EU-Iran relations to MEP Hannah Neumann

Supporting a range of militias in the Middle East and providing weapons to Russia in its war against Ukraine, Iran is increasingly in the geopolitical spotlight. At the same time, Iranian women are still fighting for their rights, while legislative voting took place on 1 March 2024. So, we asked three questions to MEP Hannah Neumann (Greens/EFA), regarding how she sees EU-Iran relations moving forward.

Read more


How the Orbán administration’s political approach to the EU affects the upcoming rotating EU Council presidency

Will Hungary be able to credibly fulfil its task of holding the EU Council Presidency in the second half of 2024? This key question has frequently popped up during discussions in the Brussels bubble in recent months.

Read more


What would a second Trump presidency mean for UK-EU defence cooperation?

A Trump presidency would probably force the UK and EU to intensify their cooperation on security and defence. Fortunately, says Gesine Weber, this relationship was relatively less affected by Brexit. It would also push Europeans to have some difficult conversations about building on their own nuclear deterrent. 

Read more


New publications & fellowships

FELLOWSHIP | Climate disinformation media fellowship 2024 

With this fellowship, the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union gives a select number of journalists the opportunity for on-the-ground reporting on climate disinformation case studies. The articles will be published as part of a web dossier on battling climate disinformation. Deadline for applications: Sunday, 10 March 2024, 23:59 CET.

Apply now!


STUDY | Women CSO leaders for systemic change - How to support feminist leadership in Europe 

This study aims to take stock of the progress of the last decade, as well as identify remaining barriers and new opportunities for women CSO leaders in achieving systemic change in Europe. The key findings indicate a concerning trend of burnout among women leaders in the CSO sector, hindering their efforts to drive systemic change. It was authored by Céline Charveriat, Joanna Maycock, Eloïse Bodin and Angela Philp, and it is a joint project of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union, the Green European Foundation, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies.

Read more


Upcoming events

7 March, 18:00 CET
Towards the 2024 European Parliament elections - How can EU reform and enlargement succeed?

Recent polls forecast a significant right-wing shift in the European Parliament. This would mean that a larger proportion of right-wing populist and right-wing nationalist forces could be represented in the new European Parliament than ever before. Right-wing majorities would become more likely than progressive majorities in future votes. Such a shift to the right in Europe would also have an impact on the debate on the reform and enlargement of the EU and would put the Union’s cohesion to the test. In view of the many domestic and foreign policy challenges that Europe is currently facing, Europe's ability to act and its resilience are needed more than ever. Discussion with Dr. Thu Nguyen, Deputy Director, Jacques Delors Centre, Berlin and Piotr Buras, Head of Office, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), Warsaw.

Register here

Past events

20 February
Trump 2.0: How should the EU approach an isolationist America?

The 2024 US presidential election will be closely watched. After all, the potential return of Donald Trump to the White House would have a significant effect on Europe’s security dynamics with profound implications for the European Union. This is raising some uncomfortable questions. How would a Trump 2.0 administration differ from the first and what would the implications be for Europe? How could the EU strategically engage with a more isolationist administration, particularly in the context of the NATO alliance and war in Ukraine? In the face of a changing transatlantic landscape, how can the EU assert itself as a proactive player in international relations and contribute to global security efforts? Discussion with: Max Bergmann (CSIS), Jana Puglierin, (ECFR Berlin) and Steven Everts (EU-ISS)

Watch the recording

Böll·Europe Podcast

Böll·Europe Podcast #13 | A European pathway for migration 

Migration and economy are two main subjects leading the EU agenda and have been often used by national leaders as landmark topics to gain political consensus. However, the link between the legal pathway for migration and the economic - as well as demographic - crisis the EU is experiencing is rarely discussed. So, why is legal migration useful to address the EU's most pressuring challenges? What can be done to improve the current policies and to strengthen the respect of human rights, when addressing migration? This episode's guests are Franziska Brantner MdB, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, and Reshad Jalali, Senior Policy Officer at the European Council on Refugees and Exiles.

Listen on Spotify | Apple | YouTube
Photo credits: European Parliament, Public Domain; Alexis Haulot, European Parliament & Joan Lanfranco, All rights reserved; JonnyJim/Canva Pro, All rights reserved; Baloncici | Shutterstock, All rights reserved; Roman Samborskyi & Joan Lanfranco, All rights reserved; Image: IMAGO / Steinach & "WeNeedEU" logo: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, All rights reserved; Maxim Studio | Shutterstock, All rights reserved.

The Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung is a German political foundation affiliated with the German Green Party (Alliance 90/The Greens). Its primary task is political education and advocacy in Germany and abroad. Our main tenets are ecology and sustainability, democracy and human rights, non-violence and justice. In our work, we place particular emphasis on gender democracy, equal rights for minorities and the political and social participation of migrants.

Our namesake, the writer and Nobel Prize laureate Heinrich Böll, personifies the fundamental principles we stand for: defence of freedom and human dignity, civic courage, open debate and the acknowledgement of art and culture as independent spheres of thought and action. As a think tank for green visions and ideas, we are part of an international network with 34 offices worldwide and with partner projects in more than 60 countries.

The Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union represents the foundation vis-à-vis European and international institutions, associations, non-governmental organisations and media based in Brussels. The office is a main point of contact for individuals, groups and organisations from around the world interested in EU politics and policies. The future of the European project and the role of the European Union in the world are at the centre of our activities and efforts.

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